Google’s Virtual Reality Swag

cardboard VR google


Swag is often a commodity that is very forgettable. Google stepped it up this year ( in addition to some high tech goodies ) by adding a low fi leave behind this year.  A slim packet unfolds into a cardboard virtual reality headset.  An NFC chip preloads an app and you can look around a variety of google earth views.  I got to try this out myself and I was rather impressed.

Takeaway:  If you want to leave an impression – do something different.  Often a combination of digital and analog can be most memorable, but you need to have a very low barrier to entry.  Kudos for google for breaking ground with something so simple but buzzworthy.






When Content Marketing Becomes Your Brand – Google Play

If you are a platform, the content you serve is your brand strength. A long time ago Apple had an app for everything, but now everyone has the right apps, on multiple operating systems.  What is the new point of differentiation?  After all, app stores and phones are really about the apps – nothing else matters.  Content is king – again.

Google’s new “Play Your Heart Out Ad” is amazing.  The brand transference from each artist and app to Google’s logo was very smart, and the music helps seal this campaign away from early adaptors to their new mainstream audience.  Its Hip. It’s a big move away from their past ads showing power and processing speed, which really never resonated with me.  This campaign shows variety, and also instantly establishes credibility – you’ll note that barely any of the app logos need to have titles.  They are very recognizable. And now I associate them with the Android Ecosystem. Even as a apple user, I am very aware now that everything I could want is on Android.  And I might be willing to consider a Galaxy when my contract runs out.  I can see myself using these apps and thus using Android.  Goal achieved.

Its interesting that Google has moved further into Content, where Apple has moved into user stories and hardware lately.  What makes your brand stand out? How do you tell you story?

ps. I am impressed that this song was released in 2007 !  Way to be progressive Ed Banger Records & Busy P. 

There is one other thing that really stands out here.  When people typically talk about branding, we are taught to think in specific colors, fonts, and identity guidelines.   In a media rich ecosystem that we live in today, consumers are open to seeing a brand evolve.  Note in this add that their are barely any taglines, or key colors. The brand changes with each piece of content. A brand identity that is flexible and open. A brand that can become anything the user wants.  Quite literally, a brand becomes the very content it helps host.

How Amy Adams and Kevin Costner persuaded me to buy a Smart TV

Samsung’s new HD Curved TV ad is a huge success. I am curious on how they will translate this campaign to digital marketing as well.

Using snippets from movies and TV is an old trick, but it goes over very well when done right – which it is here.   The key learnings for how to do this take into account infotainment and Brand transference.   

Infotainment is rather simple, it’s when we are both educated and entertained with a message.  By using entertainment clips for a new product, this is done by default.

Two, brand transference employs that by seeing Amy Adams or scenes from Jurassic park, the emotional feelings from that movie are carried over to this new product launch for Samsung.  A consumer gets to transfer feelings from one experience to a new product, rather then having to start from scratch.

Using these two methods, they have crafted an effective and beautiful ad.  Im sure they had to pay a lot of licensing fees, but I assume they will have plenty of awareness for their product.  We will have to see if consumers flock to retail establishments to consider it for purchase.  The TV market in general has been undergoing fragmentation between which next smart features are needed for 2015 and beyond.   The curved form factor of the TV also may be problematic for families who wan  multiple best points of viewership.

ps. As an aside, I find it fascinating that TVs have gone from convex to flat to concave in the course of 10 years.  



Why Retail is using data the wrong way – ensuring the best customer experience for omni retail

mattress selection and computers

Today a sales associate tried to help sell my mother on a mattress through their special diagnostic tool.  They said that it compiles thousands of data points from sleep scientists, and uses thousands of sensors to guarantee the perfect fit.  This pitch is nothing new.  This approached is used in dating, shoe selection, and multiple verticals for the consumer space.  However their are several major issues:

1.  It assumes everyone is the same.  Statistically, a computer can compile that most people will like the same thing, but we all have personal preferences as well.   The take away should be that many people feel this way as a guide, rather then that this is the “right” fit for you.

2. Salespeople still have to treat people like people, not equations.  If the sales associate would have talked to my mother before throwing her in a machine, we would have been more likely to buy a bed.  Data is no substitution for customer service.

3. In Certain Data sets, Data only gets you so far. In many situations, tests can get you part of the way there, but after filtering out some basic traits, the rest has to be decided in person.  For example, an online search can tell me which cars might be a good fit for me based on price and preferences, but I still want to test drive them to see how they feel.   The issue is that retail associates mistake tests for absolute answers, rather then tools to help move someone down a funnel.

4. The Bell Curve is an outdated model in many verticals.  In our culture of abundance, we often look to machines and software to tell us the most efficient answer.  For verticals that are based on taste, the bell curve model is dead.  Content consumption ( videos, music, etc. ) is a great example where people can find the exact fit for them, rather then looking for the most popular item.  Digital goods is the easiest argument for this last fit. However, other physical goods cater to clusters of people or outliers in the equation – take Etsy for example.  It caters to the long tail of economics, finding custom goods for custom buyers.    Now for commodity good like a bed, the bell curve still may be a good fit.  This may speak to the cost and scale of production, but I imagine that the availability of options in the mattress industry is changing consumer expectations as well.


In any instance, as retail has the ability to be more digital, it’s important to maintain some elements of care and humanity. Tools can mutually help people be more efficient with sales and customer satisfaction, but its important that tools are used the right way to help out both parties, with a grain of salt for personal preferences and individuality.

As an overall generalization for omni channel experiences,  data and software is great for helping people work through areas of the upper funnel for customers, but often the later parts of retail need a high touch experience to fully ensure customer product fit and maximum satisfaction.  Both digital and analog need each other for certain verticals to be truly successful.


PS4: The Benefits of Sharing Social Gaming

Documenting your “raids” in WOW or other games has been a standard practice in the gamer community for a while. For the record, I am not a gamer.  Playstation’s most recent ads have been highlighting their new “share” functionality for gameplay which is a big feature for the platform.

This is clear example of where Marketers need to go in the future.  Watch and listen to what your users and brand ambassadors are doing, and then make it easier for them to do what they enjoy doing.  Sony delivered and then some.

Social gaming has always been big in the game experience, but making it easier to document and share gameplay will change how gamers can easily share and connect about moments that matter to them.  Thus making them happier engaged members of the community, and maybe even changing the way people play games.  This could have a big impact on learning how to beat levels, develop your skills, or challenge people from across the globe. Documentation has always been a form of measurement, which can only lead to other insights.

What other industries could benefit from allowing their customers to document and give real time feedback about their experiences with their product.  Everyone is already doing this to an extent with social media monitoring, and whatnot, but can brands make it easier to work with their community? Yes.

If you give your fans what they want, they will not only be happier, but they may help you evolve as a brand. 




Is Pepsi becoming the new Redbull?


As a Brand matures, they begin to diversify. The brand architecture becomes less about corporate colors and identity, and more about a brand experience and lifestyle.  Pepsi has been embracing this strategy with its “Max” line, proudly encouraging fans to carpe diem.

Damien Walters has been a youtube sensation for a few years now. Below is his 2011 showreel.  He has bee a figurehead in the freerunning and pakour community for quite some time.

In addition to seeing Pepsi continue to evolve as a brand, the other thing worth mentioning here is how they are using celebrity talent for brand transference.  Youtube is rapidly becoming a place for talent discovery and recruitment.  As the web has given a voice to everyman, talent and quality content is accessible to all. Some brands like Pepsi have moved into content creation using youtube sensations to draw a larger buzz on social media.

I think this campaign is a win-win.  Damien Walters gets to showcase his amazing talent to a larger audience, and Pepsi continues to expand its social capital to a younger generation with an exciting new ad campaign.  This campaign speaks to the future of brands becoming their own syndication channels of user curated talent.


Real Time Media & TV: Suits on USA network

When a Show says “sync now” you better have the mobile content and real time marketing to back it up.  Exclusive content is no longer just a few pictures or behind the scene content.  Give me a prize for taking the extra step to download your app. The stakes are higher, and we expect more. 

When you link your TV bumpers to a basic microsite with profiles about actors, I am left disappointed. Real time marketing/media can we amazing, but make sure you have the content to back it up if you advertise it. 


Magna Carta Jay Z Album Marks Milestone in Corporate Collaboration

jay z samsung magna carta

What does it mean that major albums are co launched by a mobile company for an artist?  Jay Z teased the release of his Magna Carta album today signifying a milestone in artist marketing.  The video above showcases tracks, producers, and story, but its presented by Samsung Galaxy.  More and more we are seeing corporate endorsements of the changemakers and creatives of our times, and I personally am intrigued on how this awareness and shift in paid media dollars will effect content creation.  What does it mean when a new album from the heart is cosponsored by a secondary brand ?  This is commonplace in sports, and social entrepreneurship, but music has usually only maintained this relationship after the fact. Ex. Tailor Swift and Pepsi.  However, to co associate your personal brand with a tech brand seems like a new frontier in a pre launch environment.  Do you think any other artists will follow this trend?   Or for a brand like Samsung, maybe this is the best time in the “hype cycle” to endorse a product / person to get the maximum brand transference to impact their bottom line. What do you think?


ps. The other interesting note is that he teased the announcement using imagery via social media.  More and more, Artists and personal programming channels are being used to interact with fans wtih RTM ( real time marketing ) rather then relying on older PR channels and wire services.

magna carta jayz magnacarta jayz samsung Picture-3